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What can you then think of Tomlinson's declaring himself in favour of it, upon enquiry?
Lovelace too must know it to be so; if not before he brought you to it, soon after.
But if this be so what (it would be asked by an indifferent person) has hitherto saved you? Glorious creature!— What, morally speaking, but your watchfulness! What but that, and the majesty of your virtue; the native dignity, which, in a situation so very difficult (friendless, destitute, passing for a wife, cast into the company of creatures accustomed to betray and ruin innocent hearts) has hitherto enabled you to baffle, overawe, and confound, such a dangerous libertine as this; so habitually remorseless, as you have observed him to be; so very various in his temper; so inventive; so seconded, so supported, so instigated, too probably as he has been!—That native dignity, that heroism I will call it, which has, on all proper occasions, exerted itself in its full lustre, unmingled with that charming obligingness and condescending sweetness, which is evermore the softener of that dignity, when your mind is free and unapprehensive!
If you do not fly the house upon reading of this, or some way or other get out of it, I shall judge of his power over you, by the little you will have over either him or yourself.
One word more. Command me up, if I can be of the least service or pleasure to you. I value not fame; I value not censure; nor even life itself, I verily think, as I do your honour, and your friendship—for, is not your honour my honour? and is not your friendship the pride of my life?
May heaven preserve you, my dearest creature, in honour and safety, is the prayer, the hourly prayer, of Your ever faithful and affectionate
But this, Belford, I hope—that if I can turn the poison of the inclosed letter into wholesome aliment; that is to say, if I can make use of it to my advantage; I shall have thy free consent to do it.
I am always careful to open covers cautiously, and to preserve seals entire. I will draw out from this cursed letter an alphabet. Nor was Nick Rowe ever half so diligent to learn Spanish, at the Quixote recommendation of a certain peer, as I will be to gain a mastery of this vixen's hand.
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE TO MISS HOWE.
Titursday Evening, June 8. FTER my last, so full of other hopes, the contents of this will surprise you. O my dearest friend, the man has at last proved himself to be a villain!
It was with the utmost difficulty last night, that I preserved myself from the vilest dishonour. He extorted from me a promise of forgiveness; and that I would see him next day, as if nothing had happened: but if it were possible to escape from a wretch, who, as I have too much reason to believe, formed a plot to fire the house, to frighten me, almost naked, into his arms, how could I see him next day?
I have escaped—heaven be praised that I have !—and have now no other concern, than that I fly from the only hope that could have made such a husband tolerable to me; the reconciliation with my friends, so agreeably undertaken by my uncle.
All my present hope is, to find some reputable family, or person of my own sex, who is obliged to go beyond sea, or who lives abroad; I care not whither; but if I might choose, in some one of our American colonies—never to be heard of more by my relations, whom I have so grievously offended.
I am at present at one Mrs. Moore's at Hampstead. My heart misgave me at coming to this village, because I had been here with him more than once: but the coach hither was so ready a conveniency, that I knew not what to do better. Then I shall stay here no longer than till I can receive your answer to this: in which you will be pleased to let me know, if I cannot be hid, according to your former contrivance (happy, had I given into it at the time !) by Mrs. Townsend's assistance, till the heat of his search be over. The Deptford road, I imagine, will be the right direction to hear of a passage, and to get safely aboard.
Mrs. Moore, at whose house I am, is a widow, and of good character: And of this, one of her neighbours, of whom I bought a handkerchief, purposely to make enquiry before I would venture, informed me.
I will not set my foot out of doors, till I have your direction: And I am the more secure, having dropped words to the people of the house where the coach set me down, as if I expected a chariot to meet me in my way to Hendon; a village a little distance from this. And when I left their house, I walked backward and forward upon the hill; at first, not knowing what to do; and afterwards, to be certain that I was not watched before I ventured to enquire after a lodging.
You will direct for me, my dear, by the name of Mrs. Harriot Lucas.
Your unhappy, but ever affectionate
Mr. Lovelace To John Belford, Esq.
Friday Morning, past Two o'clock. O TRIUMPHE! Io Clarissa, sing!—Once more, what a happy man thy friend !—A silly dear novice, to be heard to tell the coachman whither carry her !—And to go to Hampstead, of all the villages about London !—the place where we had been together more than once!
But thou wilt be impatient to know how I came by my lights. Read the inclosed here, and remember the instructions which from time to time, as I have told thee, I have given my fellow, in apprehension of such an elopement; and that will tell thee all, and what I may reasonably expect from the rascal's diligence and management, if he wishes ever to see my face again.
Honnored Sur,—This is to sertifie your Honner, as how I am heer at Hamestet, wher I have found out my Lady to be in logins at one Mrs. Moore's, near upon Hamestet-Hethe. And I have so ordered matters, that her Ladiship cannot stur but I must have notice of her goins and comins.
My Lady knows nothing of my being hereaway, but I thoute it best not to leve the plase, because she has tacken the logins but for a fue nites. I am, may it plese your Honner,
Your Honner's most dutiful, and,
And now (all around me so still, and so silent) the rattling of the chariot-wheels at a street's distance do I hear!—And to this angel of a woman I fly!
And now, dressed like a bridegroom, my heart elated beyond that of the most desiring one (attended by a footman whom my beloved never saw) I am already at Hampstead!
MR. LOVELACE TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
Upper Flask, Hampstead, Friday, June 9. AM now here, and here have been this hour and a half. What an industrious spirit have I!— Nobody can say, that I eat the bread of idleness. I take true pains for all the pleasure I enjoy. I cannot but admire myself strangely; for, certainly, with this active soul, I should have made a very great figure in whatever station I had filled. But had I been a Prince! To be sure I should have made a most noble Prince! I should have led up a military dance equal to that of the great Macedonian. I should have added kingdom to kingdom, and despoiled all my neighbour-sovereigns, in order to have obtained the name of Robert the Great. And I would have gone to war with the Great Turk, and the Persian, and Mogul, for their seraglios; for not one of those eastern monarchs should have had a pretty woman to bless himself with, till I had done with her.
Will told them, before I came, That his lady was but lately married to one of the finest gentlemen in the world. But that, he being very gay and lively, she was mortal jealous of him. And that, on his refusing to satisfy her about a lady he had been seen with in St. James's Park, she had served his master thus: whom he had left halfdistracted on that account.
When I came, my person and dress having answered Will's description, the people were ready to worship me. I now and then sighed, now and then put on a lighter air; which, however, I designed should show more of vexation ill-disguised, than of real cheerfulness: and they told Will, it was a thousand pities so fine a lady should have such skittish tricks; adding, that she might expose herself to great dangers by them; for that there were rakes every